If you want to peek into the mind of someone with compulsive hoarding behaviours, I can recommend reading The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. It is a novel about a family, their relationships with each other and how those relationships are affected by one family member’s relationship with things.
Hoarding is just one of the challenges this family faces. But it’s a big one. We see that as each character faces the challenges life throws in their path, the persistent hoarding behaviour centred around “the house we grew up in” is the backdrop and a common thread from beginning to end.
We see how hoarding affects the small children, urged to save the foil from their Easter eggs, and the adult children, each playing their role within the family structure. We see how partners juggle between love and self-preservation. Sometimes love just isn’t enough.
Rest assured, there are no spoilers in this article. But I can tell you that a tragedy occurs. Each family member reacts to it differently. We see how some people keep hold of memories by treasuring photos. Some visit gravesides. And some hold on to useless objects like exploded kettles.
Throughout the book there are glimpses behind the scenes and clues about what drives some people to hoard. I have to hand it to the author. The characters are well-written, obviously well-researched. There is empathy embedded in the pages.
The House We Grew Up In is a book about sadness and betrayal and trauma. It’s about boundaries and consequences. And it’s also about resilience and hope.
Lisa Jewell is a best-selling author of seventeen novels (so far) and has been published in 25 languages.